Biodomes Engineering Design Project: Lessons 2-6 – Activity – www.TeachEngineering.org.
This is a fantastic resource for designing a bio-dome, excellent for studying ecosystems, specific environments and engineering (there’s also a nice little bit of recycling of plastic bottles involved). The webpage also details how to approach a number of lessons teaching with regards to the bio-dome that students can build. There is also a Bio-dome workbook in pdf that can be downloaded from the page, a full list of materials needed, an introduction with extra vocab section and a simple to use instruction on how to build a simple model bio-dome.
The lesson plans given by Teach Engineering break down different things to look at/study within the bio-dome (energy flow, plants, animals and then decomposers), these could easily be adapted to fit what a teacher specifically wanted or to fit different timescales, you wouldn’t need to add plants, animals and decomposers over 3 weeks unless it helps to establish each one first. Maybe that’s what a school technician is for, hehe!
I think it would be fascinating for a class (or STEM group) to do this over perhaps a few weeks with maybe one built bio-dome for everyone, to see the effects of the bio-dome. The website recommends roughly 5 hours of “lesson” time, but however much of it could be done outside of a lesson to speed learning up.
Invitation to Build: Gumdrop Christmas Trees – Left Brain Craft Brain.
Okay, we’ve done challenges like this before in STEM club – spaghetti towers, marshmallows are far too messy, “buy” different types of building materials. I think one year we did it as part of STEM week and had to balance Creme Eggs on the top of a tower! It had never occurred to me to make this twist and make a Christmas Tree version!
Maybe part of the challenge could be to hold a particular star or tree ornament.
I love how you can adapt the other challenges, involve a planning session to get students to look into the best shapes involved to make a tower and then devote an hour to building a Christmas Tree. I think it would also be incredibly useful in an end of term lesson or even for a tutor-time activity. There might not be time to add it in for this year, but perhaps next year!
Building Week Part 2: Strong Shapes. I discovered this through pinterest and I really like the idea of using the three basic shapes – triangle, circle, square – to test books on. Obviously it might be easier for us to use actual masses rather than books.
I think it could be quite good, not only as a fun activity for younger children as the original blog says, but also a basic preliminary in an engineering lesson. Before building the bridge, test these shapes. Or before building the tower, which shape will be strongest? And then predict, test and use the knowledge on the actual task.
You would have to keep the three shapes to strict rules – one piece of paper per shape. How can you stick it together? And then how do you place the masses/books on it?
It could even then evolve into building a structure with these shapes in what shape? For example, do you put three triangles in a triangle to hold masses or would 4 squares in a square work best. Vary this and increase the experiments!